Holiday Spirit

By a very generous stroke of luck, I had the house all to myself today.  As I sat on the couch watching television, I listened to this guy share that one of the reasons he loved his wife was because the way she viewed the world was unlike anything he’d ever seen or experienced.  He described how his wife simply loved people, saw the best in everyone and always wanted to help whoever and wherever she could.  He stated that he often wished he could see the world from her eyes.  The wife explained that she was a glass half full type person and made a conscience effort to be positive because she enjoys seeing people be their best selves.

Their conversation reminded me of the many conversations I have with my love.  He and the kids often tell me how different I am and that most people don’t think or view the world the way I do.  Whenever we have family discussions, I am usually the odd woman out.  I’ve always known that my way of thinking, speaking and being is rather different from what is considered the norm in my culture but there is just something in me that wants the best for every person I meet.  I feel that no matter the situation, there is a win-win solution for everyone involved.  Although it can be a tough job most days,  I often feel it is my purpose to love others, to find and make peace, to simply be kind.  I don’t seek attention or acknowledgement, I simply hope that by loving or being kind to someone, they will in turn love or be kind to someone else.

Today is Christmas and I spent the day basking in the quiet of an empty house.  My love and the kids are visiting their family.  I spent time with my family yesterday.  So today was about relaxing and counting my many blessings.  Earlier this afternoon I decided to open some of the cards I received from coworkers and I came across one that made me pause.   You never know how showing kindness or sharing a positive word will impact someone.  There is more than enough negativity and tragedy happening in this world, I don’t need to add to it.  I will be sharing this card with my kids when they get back so that they will know that it is very true that what you put out you will get back.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year…:)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being Mimi

When Saleem was about four or five years old I can remember, people always asking, “do you want any more kids” or “when are you having another one?”  My response was always the same, “if God wants me to have some, he better send me a man with some because I’m not having anymore!”  It was a joke to me until Saleem was about ten or eleven and I decided that I really wanted to have another child.  Around that time I’d met my love.  Although he already had five, we thought we’d try for one more or maybe two since he was a twin and twins were known to run in his family.  Either way, we would be happy with what ever God decided to bless us with.

Unfortunately, we were not prepared for the news we’d receive a few months later.  Turns out, I had uterine fibroids and my doctors doubted that I’d ever be able to have another child.  Under my doctors’ care, I decided to put off having surgery in order to try to get pregnant one more time.  After about eight months, I had not gotten pregnant but my fibroids had grown so large they were pressing on other vital organs.  My doctor was afraid my kidneys would be dangerously affected.  When tests revealed just how much damage my fibroids were doing to my body, my doctor gave me two weeks to get things in order so that he could perform my hysterectomy.

The day I left my doctor’s office was one of the saddest days.  Not only was I faced with not being able to have another child but I struggled with having to have such a major surgery at thirty-two years old.  Needless to say, the days leading up to the surgery were some of the most difficult.  I didn’t want my parents or Saleem to worry about me so I put on a brave face, said the most positive things when anyone asked how I was doing and tried not to cry.

The surgery went well.  I recovered with good friends, family and my love taking care of me.  I returned to work and life moved on.  At the time, only three of my love’s children lived in the area and we were able to see them regularly.  So between his three and Saleem, we were often pretty busy having family movie nights, vacationing in some small town in Florida none of us had ever heard of and hanging out with the kids at one of their extracurricular events.

Time seems to have flown by.  The picture above is of me and who I refer to as “The Last of the Mohicans.”  These are my love’s youngest two…the twins and the last two at home.  They were three years old when their dad and I met.  I was blessed to be Saleem’s mom and to be apart of his everyday life and upbringing.  Even though God decided that having another child was not in the cards for me, I have been truly blessed to be Mimi to my love’s kids, especially these two.  I have been blessed to share in many firsts with the twins…their first day of kindergarten, their first day of middle school, their first day learning to drive, their first “unofficial” date and today, their first day at their first job.  In a few years, we will be dropping them off at their first day of college.

Prior to gaining full custody of the twins and their older sister almost four years ago, my love and I were weekend parents along with giving as much support during the week as needed.  Granted our lives have changed quite a bit now that the kids are with us full time and I must admit, I was not at all prepared as Saleem was out on his own by then.  I was enjoying being a semi-empty nester.  I understand now that even though all those years ago I joked about God sending me a man with kids, He has actually answered my prayers.  I am so grateful to have had this time with them.

 

Be careful what you ask for…:)

Forty-Five

Recently, I had a birthday and I turned forty-five.  Seems kind of crazy that that much time has passed in my life.  This years’ birthday was a little hard for me.  Not because of my age since I knew it was coming, but for some reason I haven’t figured out yet, I spent A LOT of time reflecting.  I thought about all that I have accomplished in these forty-five years.  I spent time thinking about the decisions and choices I’ve made that have not produced the fruit I’d hoped for.  My parents came to mind a lot.  I miss them everyday.  Even though I know they were proud of me and that we were solid when they left this earth, there is still so much I’ve done since their passing that I wish they could have been able to witness and be a part of.

I was what some would call a late bloomer.  A few incidences beyond my control detoured my path.  While many of my friends were in college, I was a working single mom taking classes when I could.  When they finished four years later I was still plugging along, one class at a time and raising my son. There are times when I feel that I should be further along in my life than I am currently then I remember that my plans aren’t always God’s plan for me.  For the most part, I’ve had a good life.  But you don’t get to be this age without a few regrets.  If I could go back, there are a few things I would do differently.  At some of those forks in the road, I  definitely would have chosen a different path.  However, hindsight is always twenty-twenty.  At my age now, I only have one choice to make:  I can dwell on the past and my coulda, shoulda, woulda’s or focus all of my attention and effort on making the second half of my life my best one.  I think I will go with the latter.

My friends think I am much too busy.  For me, there is still so much I want to do and goals I plan to achieve.  I love living my life and I want to get in as many adventures as I possible can.  I know obstacles will come and I have learned that while they slow us down they aren’t stop signs.  Life will sometimes be uncomfortable, frustrating, complicated and often confusing but that’s what makes it worth living.

I am working to change the things about my life that I am not happy with.  Change can be difficult and for me its extremely hard because I don’t like hurting people.  I have this very strange habit of wanting to see the best in others even when they are not so kind to me.  Overall, this has been a very good year and I’m looking forward to the next chapter.

Seeing what the future holds…:)

 

 

 

 

 

Just the Highlights

I am so very glad that I journal almost every day, put darn near everything I do in my calendar and capture the most important moments on digital image.  In this particular instance it will make giving the highlights of my 2017 year that much easier.

Leading into 2017 my focus was saving money in hopes of purchasing my first home.  Then came the business of house hunting.  But in between that lofty goal I…

Visited Washington D. C. and the African American History Museum

Completed a couple of 5K’s

Bought a new car

Served my first term as President of Soroptimist International of Tampa

Spent lots of time on the beach

Completed a bunch of School District trainings

Attended a District II Training in Ft. Lauderdale for Soroptimist

Attended more high school football games than I can count

Hosted a One Day Conerence for teen girls

Saw my old apartment building being torn down

Visited my boy and grand-boy in North Carolina

Helped my friend with her wedding business

Saw my God-Childen on their visit to Orlando from California

Took part in a protest

Celebrated my sister’s twenty years on the job

Weathered Hurricane Irma

Watched one of our schools burn down

Visited Mt. Dora

Read 14 books

Had breakfast, lunch and coffee dates with my friends and family

Got my church on…not every Sunday but frequently

Through all that I spent time reflecting on life in general, family relationships, friendships, my career, my love life, my future.  And here’s what I learned…

If it makes me happy…I’ll keep doing it

Read more…my goal this year is 24 books

Make my morning quiet time a priority

The only person I can change is me

Keep up with community service projects

The truth will most definitely set you free

Dream Big and Dream Often

Your character says a lot about you

Forgive

God’s plan for my life is meant for me; everybody can’t go

As long as I am a teacher, I will need multiple sources of income in order to survive

Work toward my goals a little every day

Here’s to 2018… 🙂

The Difference

Writing is something that I absolutely love to do and I was inspired to write this post after reading Awaken by Priscilla Shirer this morning in my quiet time. Today was Day 10 of this devotional entitled The Difference.  The scripture reading for today was from Numbers 14:24 (NIV) and it reads…

But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to and his descendants will inherit it.

For much of my life and especially as an adult, I’ve been told that I was different.  That I think differently, talk differently and pretty much do my life differently than the norm.  For the longest time this bothered me.  I didn’t want to be different.  It seemed that whenever my thoughts and opinions differed from my friends, when I chose to eat healthier or when I spoke about God and openly practiced my faith, I was getting some side-eyed glance or turned up nose from someone.

At one point in my life I can remember being so annoyed with being different that I just started going along with the norm.  When asked, I agreed with the group even when I knew I didn’t share the same thoughts and opinions.  I made choices and decisions based on what others said I should do and lived the way they expected me to live.  The more I went along with the norm the more my head, heart and body ached.  I seemed to always be physically and emotionally drained. I was tired and unhappy.  I’d gained weight and developed anxiety.  A few years ago as I sat talking with a friend about my struggles, stress and sadness, she said to me, “there is no way you can please everybody.  Sometimes it becomes about self preservation.  People are going to do what they want and you will be stuck in misery trying to live down to their expectations.”

Live down to their expectations…wow!

It was in that moment I realized I was more miserable living life trying not to be different rather than simply accepting myself for who I was and living life to my own expectations.  So people talked about me and made fun of me.  Yes, it was furiously annoying but I was and am much more happier just being myself.  My quiet time this morning, reminded me that God purposely made me unique and different for a reason.  No one else can be me.  The path and life God has for me is for me and no one else can walk my journey.  Since that talk with my friend, I’ve been living my life according to me ever since and have been better for it.

At church this past Sunday a gentleman sitting next to me said to me, “you must have a good life because you are always smiling.”  When I woke up Sunday I really was not feeling as if I was living a good life.  But after a moment of thinking about it, I had to agree with him.  I do have a good life.  We survived a hurricane with no damage to our home; my love, my son and my family are healthy and well and I am gainfully employed.  I may be different but I am soooo very happy!

A different kind of spirit…:)

 

 

Taking A Look Back

So…I have been a little stressed about life and my finances.  While, I am far from poor and not where I hoped to be at this point in my life, there are a lot of good things happening in my life.  This past weekend, I lost sight of those good things.  I am certain we have all reached a point in life where we look back on our life plans and think, “man, I haven’t done nearly what I thought I’d have done at this point in my life”.  That was me just a few days ago.  But then a simple act happened that hit me right in the face.

We had a relatively quiet and restful three-day weekend.  I started getting a little tense on Saturday after getting up and paying some bills online.  I’d just gotten paid on Friday and by Saturday the amount in my account started shrinking fast.  Still, my love and I, decided to drive out to a small historic town to have lunch and to just enjoy the day.  It was nice but still I was focused on my finances like, “wow, I work hard and just like that my hard earned dollars are out the window.” Sunday, our son had a football game so we drove out to enjoy that as well.  By Monday, I was still trying to get it together and we decided to get our weekly shopping done. While out, we somehow ended up in the neighborhood I lived in prior to graduating college.

My old neighborhood served its purpose.  My friend, who owned the home where I lived, at the time, was taking a job three hours north and needed to sell.  I was in school and didn’t want to quit.  With no other options, my friend suggested public housing.  I wasn’t ready to live there and didn’t plan to stay long.  The first time my name came up, I turned down the housing.  But with time running out, the house being on the market and could be sold at any point, I swallowed my pride and accepted when I was offered housing a second time.

My son and I moved in.  I worked super hard, finished school, found a teaching position and got out of dodge withing three years.  The neighborhood is now being demolished.  On Monday, seeing nearly all of the buildings gone, humbled me with the quickness.  I sat there in the car, looking around at my old neighborhood thinking about where I’d come from and all that I had accomplished in fifteen years.  I was reminded that I have no reasons to be stressed or worried about my life or finances.  Living in public housing, seriously wondering where our next meal was going to come from and praying I could just hold out long enough to finish school was my reality back then.  If I could just finish school, I knew I could make a better life for me and my boy.  I’ve come a very long way and God has been there for every up and every down.  Somehow, we always had food.  The lights never went off.  I had gas to get to and from school.  The rent was paid every month and I never had to borrow a dime from anyone.  We were faced with situations I thought we’d never survive and we had outcomes that I know for a fact were not of my hand.

Needless to say, that simple drive changed my perspective within a matter of seconds.  It never hurts to take a moment to look back over your life and in doing so, focus on the number of times you should have been down and counted out.  Those days when you knew you were being careless and shouldn’t have survived the night.  God kept you for a reason.  Don’t lose sight of that.

A brighter day…;)

Welcome 2017

As 2016 has come to an end, just like my winter break, I spent a few moments last night and today reflecting on my life this past year.  To be perfectly honest, I am just grateful to be alive and as far as I know healthy.  I have my family, I have a job, I have a roof over my head and I woke up this morning in my right mind. Can’t ask for much more than that.  While I didn’t reach all of the goals I’d set for myself in 2016, I did make some very big gains in my personal, profession and spiritual life.  Of course, there were some good times and a whole bunch of not-so good times but all in all it was a very good year.

I am just as equally proud of my bad days as I am of my good days.  Over the years I have come to understand that without bad days I would never learn how strong, dynamic, resourceful and creative I am.  All the things I say I can do and will do won’t mean as much if I don’t have some struggle along the way.  I put forth every effort to live the life that my parents dreamed for me and one that will leave a legacy/impact that will make those around me proud to have known me.  I don’t always get it right.  I don’t always handle challenging situations appropriately.  However, every morning that God wakes me up, I open my eyes with prayer in my heart and I am grateful for another opportunity to get it right.  I’ve learned how to say, “I’m sorry” even if I may not be in the wrong because my relationships with my family and friends is important to me.  I’ve learned to forgive even when I don’t necessarily “feel” like it because I know forgiveness is for my betterment and well being, and not someone else.

There are so many things to look forward to that I didn’t spend too much time looking back.  We want to reflect not dwell!

Expecting great things in 2017…:)